Saturday, November 30, 2013

Six Ways To Become A Selling Artist, Not A Starving Artist


I've been thinking of you and how you can change from being an amateur artist to a successful artist who sells their work.

1.  To become a professional artist you must have the right mind set.  Take control of your thoughts.  Right now.  Begin to think of yourself as a professional artist.

So what's in a name?  There is something inherently powerful in calling yourself an artist. Once you call yourself "artist", it means you are someone who creates things.  If you never make art, you really can't call yourself an artist.   

Leading me to this...If you call yourself "artist" you're probably making art.  Calling yourself artist means you have to take action.  You have to do the art in order to have the name.

Many people are squeamish about using the label "artist".  Why?  Is is so terrible to be known for what we do?  We like to make things with our hands.  I think the reason why we shy away from the word is because it sounds like we are bragging.

It sounds like we are saying "I am a great artist."  There is an element of expectation within the word.  Expectation in that now... we must prove it.  We may have to show somebody our art.

The word "artist" also includes the expectation that you are good at it. And we probably are or we wouldn't want to call attention to the fact that we make things.  

Proving you are good at art is futile.  Art is relative.  Some will love our art, some will hate it and others will just yawn.  It's not for us to decide on the outcome.  We just go about doing our art and let the good opinions of our art be left to the individual viewer.

When I decided to become a full time artist, I had no money  and a big head.  I thought  "I can do this."  Little did I know that it would take even more confidence to get to where I am today. 

A note here:  Women especially need to acquire confidence in their work.  Many woman artists that I meet suffer needlessly thinking that they are not talented enough.  Or feel they are not good enough to make big, big sales.  That's why you see so many successful male artists making the big bucks.  Men get famous and sell paintings for major money because they believe they are worthy.

Sorry, I don't mean to be disrespectful to men.  I'm not trying to be.  I say this only because I meet many male artists that don't have a problem telling me how wonderful their art is.  And I meet many women artists that don't even call themselves artists!  

There is a cultural standard that allows men to say what they do and promote it.  But the same culture says something different to women.  It whispers to women "Don't think so highly of yourself sweetie." or "You're just a show off."

I'm not encouraging women to act like jack-asses.  Or to endlessly brag about themselves.  What I am saying is this... "Women need to build their confidence".  When we sell our art we expose part of ourselves.  We open ourselves to being vulnerable.  It's scary for women to be vulnerable.  It's scary because we've been knocked around a lot.  

Art takes courage to make and courage to put it out in the world.  But our art stands alone.  It is not who we are, only a small part of ourselves.

Everyone who wants make art can make it.  Not everyone can sell it. This is where it gets scary.  Nobody likes rejection, but there comes a point in your life where you must take the risk of being rejected.  Whether you are good or not doesn't really matter for selling.  It helps, but I've seen a lot of shit art that sells like mad.

Don't take anyones opinion as the final permission to sell or not to sell your work.  It's about how you feel about your work.  Do you love it?   I feel it is our duty to make art and forget the opinions altogether.

Do you enjoy making your art?  This is what matters.  The world is filled with lousy art that sells.  The world is filled with amazing art that nobody buys.  Again, it is all relative.

For example the late artist, Thomas Kinkade.  He sold millions and millions of dollars worth of paintings of cottages. Many artists in the art world hate, really they abhor his work.  Many don't even consider him an artist.  No matter what we think of him, he sold his art.  He laughed at those who called him names all the way to the bank.

So regardless of what others think of your work there will be people out in the world who will buy it.  It depends on how you market it, who your contacts are, what kind of energy and determination you have to sell it.  For the love of God...people buy snuggies!  Yeah, a backwards robe.  People buy anything and everything.  Don't get wrapped up in "will they buy" mentality.  They will buy.  If you think it is worthy and put the effort into selling it, people will buy.

Take small steps to sales.  Build your confidence in selling by showing friendly people your art first.  People in art classes and teachers who understand it is a process.  People who understand that making art takes time and practice.  I hope you have a teacher that inspires and doesn't say terrible things to damage your psyche.  Nonetheless, be prepared.  Even teachers can say the most devastating things about our work.

Until you have a good opinion about your art, no one else will.

2.  Make the most personal, most intense art that you can.  Get really good at what you do.  Practice.  You must give up things to get really good.  Give up things like television.  Television and the computer, the big time wasters that you could more productively use to make art.

Make intense, deeply personal art that creates opportunities.  You want to know why?  Because the better you can express yourself and reveal yourself in your art, the more people relate to your work.

3. Learn as much as you can so you can feel good about your work.  You will never know everything but try to be the best at what you do.  Not for others but for yourself.  Until you have really great skills, you will only be on a "so-so" level.  We can sell "meh" kind of work, but we won't feel good about our art.  Get good at it so that you can feel good about what you sell.

Don't wait for mastery to sell.  We will never be perfect.  Strive for mastery but start selling when you like the product you have to sell.  Imperfect even wobbly paintings may connect with others who would like to own your work.  Leave that up to the viewer.  If they would like to buy your work let them.  Meanwhile, learn all those boring things like perspective, color theory and tone.   Get better and better. 

The more you know about art, the more respected you become as an authority on art.  Being an authority drives up your prices.  If you are seen as an amateur, nobody wants to look at your art, let alone buy it.

4.  Get Out and Get Noticed.   Being seen is one of the most important things you can do for your art career.  Sitting at home and  posting art to Facebook may get you "likes" but it won't get you bucks.  Add prices to those posts.   We exchange energy for our work.  Money is just energy.  People like what you have, let them have some.  Share your art with the world.

The Best Ways to Get Noticed: 
  • Enter shows and contests.  This is where collectors see your work.
  • Get seen in magazines and newspapers.  Even if they are only local.  Many people read penny-savers, hometown magazines and you never know who you may connect with.
  • Be social.  Get to know people online and out in the real world.  Join art clubs and forums.  You never know who may take an interest in your art.
  • Teach.  It's a great way to make money and get yourself established as a known artist in your community.

5.  Build up your marketing materials and keep them with you at all times.  It is so important to look and have professional  marketing materials such as business cards, post cards of your art and where you can be reached.  Get catalogs, portfolios and sample work together.  Present it in a professional portfolio and online portfolios.

It's easy to create opportunities for yourself when you have professional marketing materials.  If you happen to run into someone who's wife works for the local newspaper, you'll have a post card on you to give to them. 

I cannot stress enough how ready marketing materials have landed me a golden opportunity.  Simply by being prepared.

6.  Get an elevator speech.  You don't need to constantly talk about your work.  Have a set "tag line" to describe your art to people when they ask "What do you do?"  Be prepared so that you don't miss an opportunity when someone asks.  

"I'm an oil painter" is okay but how about "I paint plein air landscapes of Italy."  That's specific and adds meat to your answer.  Your answer should lead into a conversation. 

 "Really?  A Plein air painter! By the way, what is a plein air painter?"  Or it may lead to "What part of Italy do paint?"  This stimulates more topics for discussion.  It allows others to inquire more details about your art without you sounding like a braggot.

There you have it, 6 ways to become a selling artist.  Start today!

Need more creative ideas for your Artbiz?  Sign up in the right sidebar to get my Newsletter.


Ciao Bella!